The PGA of America celebrated its centennial last year, and the Louisville, Ky., and Port St. Lucie, Fla., properties celebrated 30 and 20 years, respectively. PGA GC is planning to renovate its Ryder course next year, wrapping up a five-year plan to keep its four golf courses up-to-date.
Last year was a milestone for The PGA of America and its 28,000 members from all parts of the world, the Arlington Heights, Ill., Daily Herald reported.
The organization’s various centennial celebrations drew the bulk of the attention, but both Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Ky., and PGA Golf Club in Port St. Lucie, Fla., reached milestones as well, the Daily Herald reported.
Valhalla, which opened in 1986, turned 30 years old in 2016. Already the site of two PGA Championships, two Senior PGA Championships, the 2002 PGA Professional National Championship and the 2008 Ryder Cup, Valhalla has long been in the spotlight for its tournament resume, the Daily Herald reported.
Valhalla announced plans for a renovation of its clubhouse last year.
At PGA Golf Club, it’s a different story, yet an important one for many golfers. With four 18-hole courses, the PGA’s flagship property is much bigger than Valhalla and the winter home for the PGA’s far-reaching membership, the Daily Herald reported.
PGA Golf Club concluded its 20th season in 2016. The first tee shot was struck on what was then called the North Course. Four months later the South Course was ready for play. Both were designed by Tom Fazio, the Daily Herald reported.
Port St. Lucie, which is now a mecca for golfers, had a much different look when Fazio did his creative work on the PGA Golf Club’s first two courses. The nearest quality course was a private layout called The Reserve, which was codesigned by his uncle (former PGA Tour player George Fazio) and his older brother (Jim Fazio). The Reserve, now called The Legacy, opened on January 1, 1984. The area needed more courses at that time, and PGA Golf Club was created to fill that need, the Daily Herald reported.
“There wasn’t much over there then,” said Jeff Hartstine, who built the two courses that Tom Fazio designed. “It was a pretty standard construction endeavor—nothing unusual, no sink holes, no water problems.”
Pete Dye designed a third course at PGA Golf Club that had a soft opening in 1999 and an official debut in 2000 and a Learning Center also opened in December of 1999. Another Jim Fazio design, a nearby private facility then called PGA Country Club that had opened in 1988, was also in the mix but the heart of PGA Golf Club remained its original pair of 18-holers, the Daily Herald reported.
After enduring 10 years of play both were due for updating and that went beyond work on the courses. Each got a name change as well in 2006. The North became the Ryder Course, in honor of Samuel Ryder—the namesake and founder of the premier team event in golf. The South became the Wanamaker Course, honoring businessman Rodman Wanamaker who was instrumental in the birth of the PGA of America a century ago, the Daily Herald reported.
Over the years the Ryder and Wanamaker hosted a variety of competitions in addition to public play. In a five-year period after the 2006 renovations both courses took a beating and that led to more soul-searching on the PGA’s part. Play was down and more work needed to be done, the Daily Herald reported.
“We saw the challenge we were facing,” General Manager Jimmy Terry said. “We had a five-year plan and had the complete, absolute, ultimate support from The PGA of America on what we wanted to do. We started with a very simple thing. We wanted to make sure our courses were commensurate with what would make The PGA of America members proud to call it their winter home.”
The five-year plan is more than half over now, and it has already made an impact on the Wanamaker. In 2015, that course got new fairways, a project engineered by director of agronomy Dick Gray. The results have been well received, and the Ryder was to be upgraded next, the Daily Herald reported.
“That was going to be the next step, but, because we had a couple large events scheduled for this fall, we didn’t want to take a risk,” Terry said. “We couldn’t risk that the golf course might not be prepared in time.”
So, instead of closing the Ryder, the Dye Course got a renovation instead. Like the Wanamaker, it was similarly well received, the Daily Herald reported.
“Our final step will be to do the Ryder Course next year,” said Terry. “The response from our members has been very positive. Our private club memberships have been the highest they’ve ever been and the rounds of golf are back to a level where we’re happy with.”
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